Friday, October 19, 2007

Having fun at work

So, a co-worker and I were grabbing coffee out of our free coffee machine, and saw that a dollar was folded up and left on the counter near the machine. Each of us assumed the other had dropped it, but we quickly realized it belonged to neither of us.

We immediately began discussing the ethical dilemma of "found money."

But, hey, why not have fun with the situation? I added a dime. Whoever left that dollar, if they come back, will find it has grown 10%. Will they leave it there in hopes it grows further? Will people begin to think there's a need to leave money to pay for their coffee?

Either way, the laughs we got more than paid for the ten-cent investment I just made (but will it pay for the opportunity cost of not taking the dollar? Hmm....).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Tough it out

We all look at moments of major effort as achievements and milestones. You remember your longest run, your PR races, your injuries that you recovered from.

The truth is, fitness is built on much less grandiose moments.

Yesterday's run was a simple half-hour treadmill workout. I was tired, because I hadn't gotten enough sleep the night before. I was in a bad mood, after a stressful day at work and at home.

Honestly? That run sucked. I hated it. It never felt easy. I was uncomfortable, my ipod kept playing songs I wasn't in the mood to hear, and I couldn't find anything I wanted to watch on the TV. It was an unhappy run, but it wasn't even an unusual run. I just felt like shit, and the run did nothing to improve how I felt physically or mentally. I finished it just as drained as when I went into it. I didn't feel proud or anything, I just felt tired and sweaty.

But I did it.

It's not a glorious moment. It's not a tale of success that you can't wait to share with others. It's just the ugly truth -- sometimes it sucks, and you do it anyway, and that's how you earn the right to enjoy those other moments.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Six Miles

Prime distance running weather is upon us here in New England, and I took advantage this weekend. I laced up and did a newly extended route which turned out to be just over six miles in length.

This isn't quite a personal distance PR, as I ran a few 6-mile training runs and ran a 10K race in April of 2005. But I didn't run that distance again after the race, so we're looking easily at the longest distance I've run in two and a half years.

Four miles in, I felt indestructible. I said to myself, of course you can run a half-marathon next year -- look at this, you're going to do half that today (well, almost-half, you see).

Five miles in, my legs were tired and I had a mild side stitch. I said, hmm, maybe I should focus on running a six-mile run weekly first.

At completion, I was truly exhausted, but thrilled, and have reminded myself of the tremendous respect I have for true distance runners.

The rest of the day, soreness in my knees, which were still fairly uncomfortable this morning. Not sure how I feel about that....

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hundreds of channels

I'm paying more money than I like to admit to bring hundreds of channels of cable television into my home. There are more specialized channels than I can count, including dozens I never even look at.

You'd think one of them would carry some Ironman championship coverage, no?

Instead I'm watching it in pixelvision on my PC. Good times.

Best of luck to all the racers in Kona today. You're all an inspiration.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For example

in reference to my last post ...

One way to exert control is to go for a run when what I really want to do is put on pajamas and eat junk food in front of the TV.

Now my back and knee hurt a little ... but I'm feeling much more in control.

Little things can do a lot.

I walk the line

One of the major themes in my life is control. I have a host of small neuroses which revolve around my control over my environment, for example, but that's not what I'm talking about.

I go through phases, where I feel like I'm in control of my life ... and I go through phases where I feel like I'm swept up in a tide. There are times where month after month the bills come in and I know what's coming, and I'm content with how I'm managing the finances. Other times, I'll get a bill and realize I had no idea I spent that much money the previous month.

Right now, I feel like I'm dangerously close to that boundary when it comes to my diet. I recognize some dangerous behaviors and I'm trying to exert control on them before I get caught up in them. Work is getting very stressful, and I'm noticing when I go to lunch in the cafeteria, instead of the salad and yogurt I'm getting a sandwich and a bag of baked Lays. It's not that a sandwich and a bag of chips is an unhealthy lunch. It's that I didn't make a conscious choice to have that. I went into the cafeteria and without knowing it, let my emotions drive my choice, and ended up "treating" myself, specifically because I was frustrated, tired, and so forth.

The leap from "salad and yogurt" to "sandwich and chips" isn't that different from "sandwich and chips" to "sandwich and fries." It's all a matter of degree once emotion starts driving the choices.

For the first time in months, instead of ignoring the dish of candy on the admin's desk, I eat a couple pieces.

I see these things happening. I know I have to exert control. I know I have to center myself.

It's time to reach into the toolbox of habits and coping mechanisms and figure out what I have handy. And if I don't have something, it's time to make something up. Because October is the wrong time to start feeling like I "deserve" to eat crappy food. I don't want to end up looking back at this season in January going, "oops."

Sunday, October 07, 2007

5K PR (not as impressive as it sounds)

So I skipped my long run today, and decided to strap a number to my chest and run a shorter one. I entered my first 5K (my only previous race was a 10K) in nearby Sturbridge.

It was a small race -- 92 5K finishers. I placed, well, 82nd. Given the size of the field, I was prepared to place DFL. So, it could have been worse.

It was awesome, though, to race. Just to be in the crowd of runners, see people of all ages getting psyched up to compete and have fun, was worth it.

I have plenty of room to increase my fitness, but overall I am happy with the results. Even on the hills, I stayed running, and my overall pace was just a few seconds over 11:00, which is the pace I do my 3 mile treadmill workouts at. Considering the uneven terrain, I feel good about keeping that pace in the race.

For some inspiration, check out these relatively local 10K competitors:

Yup, Team Hoyt showed up and did the 10K version of the race. Ran pretty fast, too :). Maybe it was the energy drink they were giving away (hmm, probably not).

I didn't register early enough to get a race T-shirt, so I bought a Team Hoyt one. I look forward to wearing it on a future run.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Here, have a new team

I don't usually post about work here, not just because it's often boring, but because I really don't want to get fired over something stupid like "you put your company in a bad light on your blog" or something :).

So, excuse this gap in my fitness blogging as I talk about some interesting work happenings.

Early this week, one of my developers came to me and told me he was leaving the company to pursue a great opportunity at a Big Software Company. I'm going to miss him a lot, but I honestly hope he does well where he goes. He's a young guy, just started a family, has a lot of promise and potential. I think he's gonna make his mark no matter where he settles in.

I went to tell my manager about this, and he let me in a day early on some bigger secrets that finally were broadly communicated within the group yesterday. A peer of my manager is moving within the company, and the "decision was made" (I hate that phrase, god, could you be more transparent about shirking responsibility?) to not replace him, but to re-organize the group. The re-org makes sense, but it's still very disruptive to people.

The end result is I'm going from my team of 5, to a team of 10. Granted, one of those people is leaving in a week, but I will (hopefully) be able to replace him eventually. Not only that, it's not like I have 5 and am adding 5. I have 5, am losing 2 to another team, and getting 7 new people (who all come from the same team, so have strong pre-existing relationships).

Anybody who knows anything about managing people will tell you the interpersonal issues with a group of ten are much more complex than with a group of five. It's not just "twice the work," as these combinatorics get ugly much quicker than that. Add the complexity of their pre-existing relationships and the fact that the "legacy" team members are only going to be two out of the 9 (or 10). It's ... interesting, to say the least.

Not lost on me is the fact that I'm now responsible for two distinct new areas of the application.

Several people who have seen the news have said "congratulations" to me. The ones who "get it" say, "Oh, wow, you're gonna have a crazy month." Month? Try quarter.

See you when I come up for air in January of 08 :).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I did

I promised I'd run today, and I did.

Everything else is gravy, right? I'll write about my situation at work when I've had a few more hours to think about it. Lots going on.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

No reason, just an excuse

That's what I wrote in my fitness log tonight as to why I didn't get my run in. No reason, just an excuse.

Work is really stressful this week, beyond usual, and it's just the start of what's going to be a difficult quarter. My head isn't in the game, so to speak. I can't stop thinking about stupid work stuff. I had a nagging funny pain in my ankle a few times through the afternoon, including when I went on a short walk around the building with a co-worker. On that walk, I decided, "maybe I won't run when I get home."

When I got home, and my wife asked if I was hungry, I could have said no, let me run first. But I didn't. I said "yeah," and sat down and tried to forget my workday by talking myself out and eating with my wife.

It's too late now (not technically, but I have online plans for the evening).

I feel a little bad about it, but I'm not beating myself up over it. I recognize what I should have done, what I did, and I completely know why. It's a warning sign -- my fitness is supposed to help me deal with stress, but it can't unless I give it a fair shot.

Tomorrow I run. I promise.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Falling in love, all over again

I know the rest of the country is beautiful (well, not all of it, sorry folks), but New England in the Fall brings me such joy every year that I can't imagine ever settling down anywhere else.

Fall is starting to take hold, but Summer refuses to totally relinquish its grasp. The air is crisp and cool in the morning but warms with the sun -- sweatshirts in the morning, t-shirts in the afternoon, sweatshirts again in the evening! The woods are starting to carry the odor of Autumn, but fallen leaves and pine needles are not yet fully blanketing the rocks and roots. Apples are fresh and local, including some varieties you just never see the rest of the year.

We spent the weekend in love with New England fall. Friday afternoon was a work gathering, with BBQ food and outdoor games at a state park. That evening, my brother-in-law and his family came over, bringing some homemade pies!

Saturday's plans fell through, and my wife and I spent much of the day outdoors. We went to a nearby apple orchard and got some fresh fruit, and then went for a long hike through the woods at Wells State Park. With our appetites boosted by the exertion, we went to our favorite local restaurant and ate more than we should have (and found out our regular waitress is leaving!).

Sunday was a more quiet day, with a long quiet run in the morning and an afternoon spent doing chores, watching football, and making soup out of the leftovers from Friday's dinner. I was worried after the long hike on Saturday that Sunday morning's run might be hard, but it was fine. I really do love my long run! Then, I capped off the evening with my usual Sunday night online game group, where I got a chance to chat with some friends and kill some imaginary monsters. Geeky, I know, but that's me.

So let's pretend this morning that the bathroom scale doesn't exist. Instead, I'm just thinking about how great this weekend was, and how few of these weekends we're allowed to have in our short lives.